March 27, 2014
The protagonists who will animate the Tour of Flanders, Paris Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and the other Spring Classics will fine tune their fitness and test their legs in less prestigious races throughout late March. The cobbled Classics specialists will race in Belgium at E3 Harelbeke, Dwars door Vlaanderen, and the Three Days of de Panne, while those who aim to be in good condition for the hillier Ardennes Classics, in late April, will be at the Tour of Catalonia and the Tour of the Basque Country. The peloton racing in Belgium will battle for position on the windswept farm roads and thunder over the cobbles while the peloton in Spain will ride week-long races in the hills and mountains. Few riders will cross over the divide. (Continue reading)
(photos by Camille McMillan)
March 21, 2014
A plate of half eaten nachos sat on the table, Doug leaned back and quoted W.P Kinsella’s book, Shoeless Joe, “If you build it, they will come.” It wasn’t the first time I had heard him repeat the line. Unlike the novel’s protagonist, Ray Kinsella, whose dream was to build a baseball diamond, Doug’s was to build a velodrome. For over a decade he’d looked for a field within riding distance of his hometown of Boulder, Colorado, where he could build a track.
In his dreams, this wasn’t a fancy facility that would cost a fortune, but a board track in a yard with a few port-a-potties, an announcer calling the races, dozens of riders whirling around, and a small crowd of spectators in the stands that are munching on popcorn and drinking beer under the summer sun. When I first met Doug Emerson, he’d described it just like that. (Continue reading)
March 14, 2014
Every winter, teams from all over the world travel to warmer climates to train for the coming races. For 10 to 14 days, the riders spend every hour of the day with their teammates: they eat together, ride together, and even share hotel rooms. In fact, there are few solitary moments when they aren’t with a teammate. For most teams, this is the only time of the year where the entire team will be together in one place.
After the camp, the squad will be fractioned off into different parts of world. Of the 20 to 30 riders on a team, groups of six to nine riders might be racing in three different countries at one time. There’s a chance that some teammates may never see each other during the racing season, as they’ll have entirely different race schedules — the riders who focus on the early-season one day races may never ride with those building towards the Tour de France. For others, it may also be the only time that they’ll train with their teammates, as each rider will travel to the races from their home base. So, out of necessity, some riders’ closest training partners wind up also being their rivals at the races. Needless to say, there are few team sports where rival athletes will train together between events. (Continue reading.)